Natalie Ruzgis, Master Educator with Hotheads, is an extensions guru, and that’s why we’ve selected her as our January Educator of the Month!
, Master Educator with Hotheads, has been in the beauty industry for 13 years, the past seven of which she has been educating with Hotheads.
-- How’d you get your start in education?
I had always loved extensions—even before I went to beauty school. I loved experimenting with them, so I became sort of an expert and had a reputation locally for my work. When Premier started distributing Hotheads
, they were looking for educators in the Chicago area, and they reached out to me; I became Chicago’s first local educator! What’s your favorite product from Hotheads?
My absolute favorite is the Hotheads Ultimates
. They are so innovative and camouflage well. You can use them close to the hairline and even on fine hair. What's the newest, freshest approach you're bringing to education?
I am a risk-taker. I love experimenting and trying new looks and techniques on myself and my clients. I’m not afraid to try custom color blends, wacky color combinations, or upstyling. Because of this, I can speak to stylists from the perspective of a stylist and an end-user.What are the common problems faced by stylists today?
The biggest problem I see is how easy looks seem on TV and social media. You can’t just pick up a skill and become an expert overnight. It takes a long time, a ton of practice and education to truly master your craft, especially when it involves a specialty product like extensions.
I recommend shadowing someone you admire and absorbing as much as you can from them—ask questions and collaborate with other local stylists. Also, attend the Instagram live sessions that Premier and Master Educators from Hotheads put on. You can do so much to upgrade your skills and become an expert. What do you want stylists to know about education?
I want stylists to know that education is amazing, and it’s constantly changing—we are always working on ways to innovate and make classes more fun.
I also want stylists to know that extensions don’t have to be intimidating. The classes are so much fun, and being able to add extensions as a service enhances your life behind the chair. I always say extensions make the most loyal clients because you’re able to give clients exactly what they’re looking for. Ninety percent of my clients who try extensions for their weddings end up continuing to use extensions because they absolutely love them. There are no limitations; clients can have the hair they’ve always dreamed of. Extensions are a skill that everyone can learn, and no one should be afraid of. What are your educator goals?
I am just looking forward to getting back to educating locally. The pandemic was great for making education more accessible and allowing educators to reach a broader audience, but I’m ready to get back into the salons in my area. I love local education and have really missed it. What new skill would you like to learn (hair or non-hair related)?
I want to challenge myself to learn how to do eyebrows and brow lamination. Brows are such a growing trend, and I’d love to help my clients accessorize their look with amazing brows. Who’s your biggest mentor?
So many people have influenced me throughout my career, but I have to say I’ve grown the most from opening a salon with my two business partners. They have taught me so much. Where do you find your inspiration? (for teaching, for behind the chair, for personal life)
Instagram! I love the knowledge sharing that goes on with social media. I am also obsessed with fashion, so I always watch the Met Gala and Fashion Week in New York for inspiration and see what’s coming up in terms of trends. What is the most rewarding part about educating?
For me, it is hands-down being able to meet and connect with other stylists. I am so passionate about what I do, and I just love sharing and connecting around it. What is your favorite cutting or coloring technique?
My favorite way of doing extensions is the OG method: Tape-ins! Tape-ins work in anyone’s hair, and they are so diverse. You can do a crazy transformation, fill in a cut, or do a chemical-free balayage. What is a word of advice that you have for new stylists?
Two things: First, find someone who is doing what you want to do and get under their wing. Second, drop your ego! I had a moment early in my career where I had to accept that while I was the best in my class in school, I was starting at the bottom in my career. As a new stylist, you have to accept that and not waste the opportunity to absorb everything you can from the more seasoned stylists around you. Those first couple of years are critical. Any advice for seasoned stylists?
Don’t allow yourself to get stale. The best thing you can do is share what you know with others and learn what you can from them. Take a class or try something new! How do you like to spend your days off? (hobbies/interests)
I often teach on my days off, so I don’t have a lot of downtime, but when I do, I love to spend it vegging out with my dog, Ruby, watching Netflix, or checking out restaurants in Chicago’s West Loop. Favorite pick-me-up in the middle of a busy salon day? (snack, coffee, music, meditation, etc.)
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